I get it. No one likes leaving negative reviews. At least I would hope you don’t enjoy leaving a negative review for a fellow author or book lover. At the very least there is a human being on the other end of those reviews. The author that wrote the book you are review is a real live person, with feelings. Perhaps they have a family. That author is someone’s child, maybe someone’s mother or father, someone’s friend. Behind the anonymity of the computer screen, sometimes we forget that.
Not every review can be a five star review, nor should it. If everything you leave is excellent, then people will stop trusting your opinion. Authors really do want to know what you think, but it should be done in a manner that is both kind and helpful. After all, how can that person improve unless they learn something constructive?
Here are some easy tips in leaving negative reviews, or any reviews for that matter.
* Pay attention to the site’s star rating system and what it stands for. The 5-Star system is not a one size fits all.
For example, Amazon uses this scale:
5- I love it
4- I like it
3- It’s OK
2- I don’t like it
1- I hate it
Hate is a STRONG word. Make sure you really HATED a book before you give it a one star rating on Amazon, because that is what you are saying.
Goodreads uses this scale:
5-It was amazing
4- really liked it
3- liked it
2- it was OK
1- didn’t like it
As you can see a 2-Star rating on Goodreads is the same as a 3-Star rating on Amazon. Why don’t they use the same scale? Who knows? They like to confuse everyone, this is also why you will see slightly higher overall ratings on Amazon.
* Rate the book, not the author.
This goes back to what I said before about the author is a real person. Don’t hide behind your computer screen under the guise of just being “honest”. You are there to rate the book, so rate it and leave the author’s personal live and attitudes out of it. If it isn’t specifically written in the book you are currently commenting on, it is off limits, unless it is to say “I liked his previous book better,” or “I hope the next book in the series address this issue.” Keep it to book related issues.
* Most importantly- Be CONSTRUCTIVE.
Tell the public reading the review WHY you didn’t like the review. It doesn’t have to be detailed with examples, but give us something.
Example of a poor negative reviews: “I hated this book.”
“I met this author in person and he was really rude to me.” (I agree uncalled for, but what does this tell me about the book?)
Examples of better negative reviews: “Not my style of writing, poor editing with lots of errors and missing words, and hard to follow author’s stream of consciousness thoughts.”
“This book had too much sex and violence for my tastes.” (Personal opinions are OK, but tell the review readers that.)
Give the reader’s something to acknowledge. I may like sex and violence and therefore enjoy this book. The author also needs the negative reviews to help improve the next book.
Also remember that not every negative review needs to be a 1-Star review.
“I liked this book, but there was a lot of violence.” It may warrant a 2-3-Star review, but tell us why.
In closing, don’t be a bully. Don’t attack an author personally. Authors work hard on each and every novel they produce, and that novel is their baby. Be gentle when you tear their baby to shreds.